We recently did a super quick DIY bookcase upgrade to our playroom bookcases. We inherited a pair of bookcases with our house, but we’ve struggled with where to put them. We are always in need of more storage space in our small house, and these bookcases were very underutilized in their previous spot.
We wanted our bookcases to flank a daybed in our playroom, but the wall wasn’t designed for this. There was a big HVAC register to one side of the wall.
Our DIY Bookcase Upgrade Options
Our solution? A DIY bookcase upgrade! Replace the cabinet panels with chicken wire or metal sheeting. Cut an opening in the back of the bookshelf to make room for the vent. Problem solved! Here’s how we thought about using chicken wire vs. metal sheeting:
Option A: Chicken wire. This was definitely the cheaper option of the two. Chicken wire would definitely optimize airflow from the HVAC vent. Based on pinterest research, it can be tricky (and dangerous if you’re not careful) to install. It can also get a bit tedious because you need to twist off all the loose wiring after it is cut. My mom brain immediately wondered: which child will start to untwist it first and/or how do we prevent untwisting?
Option B: Decorative metal sheeting. This was more expensive than Option A. It may limit airflow more than chicken wire. But it seemed easier to cut, install and secure.
The deciding factor was really peace of mind for me. So, we bit the bullet and went with decorative metal sheeting.
Here’s a peek at the inside of the bookcase where we cut the back of the bookcase to “fit” the vent (fit being a very loose term in this case). We used a reciprocating saw for this project, but you could use any number of saws to do this.
Please excuse the baby in the photo. He insisted on photobombing my shot of the vent (because he wanted to climb inside!). Please also excuse the ill-fitting cutout in the back of the shelf. Yep, we are still learning as we go, and yes, we would measure our cut differently if we did it over.
Installing the Metal Sheeting
The sheeting was very straightfoward to install. We used our tinner’s snips (that we had purchased for our DIY gutter guard install) to cut them to size. Then, staple the sheeting to the door backs.We really lucked out with how easy it was to remove the original door panels.
You can see how they were held on in the pic above. A few clips, and that was it! We painted the bookcases a dark grey so the sheeting would blend better (they were originally just a very light-stained wood color). We also edged the shelves to give them a bulkier facade.
I just love how they turned out! They look great flanking the daybed. We didn’t even paint the metal sheeting! I think they blend really well as-is, but we’ll see. Maybe someday we’ll decide to paint them.
DIY Bookcase Upgrade Cost
So, how much did we spend on this update? Under a hundred dollars. The tools are excluded from the cost, since we already had them on hand:
- Bookcases – Free (inherited with our house)
- New Hardware – Free (salvaged from other shelving)
- Paint (per gallon) – $26
- Metal Sheeting – $40
- Total Cost- $66
I’m pretty pleased with that price tag. New bookcases of similar quality (all wood) cost a couple hundred dollars or more. Our sweat equity saved us around $300! I can’t wait to share with you the full playroom view, which we are so close to wrapping up!